On the night Jesus was betrayed,
he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19–20)
The same event is described in Matthew 26:26-28 and Mark 14:22-25, but only Luke used the specific word new (καινὴ) to describe the covenant. Jesus instituted the first observance of the Lord’s Supper as a new covenant remembrance, and Paul quoted this narrative in 1 Corinthians 11:25 about how “this cup is the new covenant in [Christ’s] blood” as he instructed the church in Corinth about celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
There are more mentions of the New Covenant in the New Testament as well. Paul described his work as a minister of a new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6). The author of Hebrews says that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15; 12:24) and the coming of the New Covenant makes the first one, the old one obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).
So, for us who read the apostles and who believe in Christ, we’re a part of this New Covenant, right? Well, it depends.
In the past few posts I’ve started introducing what we believe about the end times. In particular I labeled our viewpoint as that of a Dispensationalist, then I gave a few indispensabilities of Dispensationalism. They aren’t necessarily things that only a Dispensationalist would say, but you can’t be a Dispensationalist without saying them. Those non-negotiable principles include reading the Old Testament like someone in the Old Testament would, that is, we read the OT by itself first. We not only acknowledge, we appreciate that the NT sheds much light on the OT, but we do not believe that the NT ever overrides what the OT audience could have known. When we read like this, from left to right, we see God’s distinction between His chosen people, the nation of Israel, as well as His chosen people, believing Jews and Gentiles in the church. There are two ways to be elect, and in some places there is overlap between the two.
Most important of all, “a Dispensationalist believes that a future generation of Israelites will be saved and that Israel as a nation will be restored during Christ’s kingdom on earth.” That is, we believe that Christ will return to rule from His throne in Jerusalem for 1,000 years before the new heavens and the new earth.
Why do we think this? Is the nation of Israel really that important? The Messiah came, the Jews rejected Him en masse, now the gospel has gone out to the whole world. Even Paul said, “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek” (Romans 10:12). What does it matter?
Those are the sorts of questions that need answering. As I’ve mentioned previously in this series, this is a Bible reading project. We want to read rightly, to cut straight in all the parts of the Word. God is always true and faithful to His Word, so we want to know and believe it.
Perhaps there is no greater promise than what comes in the new promise, the new covenant. As we already saw, Jesus’ blood is the purchase of the new covenant, and there is no blood more precious (1 Peter 1:19). But as with all covenants and contracts, there are terms of the deal. Before we start making plans perhaps we should read the contract.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Thus says the LORD,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the LORD of hosts is his name:
“If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the LORD,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”
Thus says the LORD:
“If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the LORD.”
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt for the LORD from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the LORD. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.” (Jeremiah 31:31–40)
This really is an amazing covenant and there are at least four questions that we should ask about the text. I’ll answer all of them next week, Lord willing and the stars don’t fall.